9 Places In The World Where It’s Illegal to Die

 

Death is definitely inevitable and it is something no one can stop. But you won’t believe there are places on earth where death is outlawed. This is means people are prohibited from dying in such places. Prohibition of dying refers to a political social phenomenon in which a law is passed stating that it is illegal to die, usually specifically in a certain political division or in a specific building. There are places around the world that forbid people from dying based on specific reasons. Sounds weird but this article lists such places and provides reasons why death is a crime in those parts of the world.

1. Lanjarón, Spain

Lanjaron is a town in Spain which is also in the history books as a place where it is illegal to die. In 1999, the mayor of the town of Lanjaron banned deaths since the local cemetery was too full and the souls of the dead would be unable to rest in peace. Lanjaron town is located in the Granada province, Southern Spain. Reports have it that the mayor’s move to ban deaths in the town was carried out partly as a joke and partly as a political move to grab attention to the reason for that ban. But the ban became real and the population of 4,000 was advised to remain healthy until a new graveyard was built. This sounds like anyone can control when they choose to die or not. Otherwise how do you advise people to remain healthy until a new graveyard is built? Absurd in deed.

2. Le Lavandou, France

Le Lavandou, a beautiful town in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France, is another place that had to ban deaths due to lack of space in the cemetery. This town is known for its amazing beaches and postcard views. The law forbidding people from dying within the town was passed in 2000. This was because the cemetery in the town was at its full capacity.

3. Longyearbyen, Norway

Longyearbyen a small town in Norway, is very popular for white nights or midnight sun, that is, a period of the year when the sun never sets in the town. This town is also popular for coal mining and ‘absence of deaths’. The town which is located so close to the Arctic Circle, experiences extreme cold weather which usually reaches freezing temperatures. This creates permafrost (permanently frozen soil) which prevents dead bodies from decomposing and this in turn increases the probability of spreading transferable diseases to the living. So, it is not really that death is illegal in this town but there are simply no options for burial there, and terminally ill residents are flown to Oslo to live their last days. There is this popular perception that death is illegal in Longyearbyen, but what is existing is that it is against the law to die and be buried in the town. The law is actually against being buried in the town so people do not wait for their relation to die. If someone is nearing their death, they are taken to the mainland and other parts of Norway where such a law doesn’t exist. Sounds reasonable though.

4. Biritiba Mirim, Brazil

Biritiba Mirim is a serene town situated in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. It has a capacity of only 50,000 gravesites. This caused overcrowding of crypts (a stone chamber used to store the deceased) as they were forced to be shared. This led the mayor of the town in 2005 to take an extreme step by filing a public bill to make it illegal for people to die. Once the bill became law,  anyone who died would have broken this law and their relatives would be targeted to pay fines or even spend jail time as punishments to be able to make more space for tombstones. Very strange indeed.

5. Itsukushima, Japan

Itsukushima is another town where dying is illegal. Also known as ‘Miyajima’, Itsukushima is a UNESCO Heritage site located in Japan. It is also known as ‘Shrine Island’. The name ‘Shrine Island’ was given to this town because it is considered to be a holy god itself and is home to many shrines and temples. In order to maintain the sanctity of the place ‘dedicated to the gods’, no deaths or births have been allowed on the island since 1978. In fact, no hospitals or cemeteries have been built here at all. So it is illegal to die on this island but a dying relation could be taken to another location to give up the ghost.

6. Sarpourex, France

Sarpourex is a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France. This commune is popular for once having forbidden death by mayoral decree. It was in 2008 that a mayoral decree forbade the resident’s right to death unless they somehow already owned a spot for burial in the congested cemetery. A severe punishment was to be meted out to those who broke this law. Reports have it that this action came as a symbolic protest from the mayor’s side as a judge had ruled against taking over private farmland for expanding purposes of the cemetery. Sounds like politicizing people’s right to death.

7. Sellia, Italy

Sellia’s issue against death is more absurd as it involves a ban against even falling sick in the first place. This is a village in the Calabria region of Southern Italy which has only 560 residents, and 65% of this population is 65 years and above. So in order to protect this town’s diminishing population, a decree was passed in 2015 banning the residents from even falling sick (they shouldn’t even think of dying at all). Details of the decree ordered the older age population to resist death and although it was a strict way of enforcing the message for people to stay healthy, this seemed like the only way for the mayor to get the residents to become fit. It must have worked for the town at that time for the residents not to have made moves against the law.

8. Falciano del Massico, Italy

Falciano del Massico is a municipality in the Province of Caserta in the Italian region Campania. The mayor of this small village in southern Italy had issued an edict in 2012 banning residents from dying. The mayor, Giulio Cesare Fava, said: “It is forbidden, with immediate effect, to all citizens resident in the municipality of Falciano del Massico, and to whoever passes by its territory, to cross the border of earthly life and to enter the afterlife.” The reason for this edict was because the town’s cemetery was unable to accommodate any more bodies. Locals of the town, a community of 3,700 people, the majority of whom are retirees, must travel several kilometers down the road to attend a funeral or to be buried. Lack of rooms in the cemetery brought this upon residents of Falciano del Massico. Reports had it that two elderly inhabitants had “defied” the edict and died in the town. Probably the heavier offence was getting buried in that city and since there was no space in the cemetery, the deceased still had to be carried to neighbouring towns for burial.

9. Cugnaux, France

Cugnaux is a commune in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern France. This is another place where an attempt was made to prohibit dying. In 2007, the mayor of Cugnaux, a serene community in south-western France, banned death after he could not get permission to open a new cemetery. This town has about 17,000 residents. The ban on death was eventually lifted after authorities were granted permission to enlarge the town’s local cemetery. Can we then say that people celebrated this news because they were now ‘free to die’? Sounds absurd.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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